Ubisoft Doles Out Game Cancellations and Delays
Skull and Bones is delayed for a sixth time (yes, 6), and the company has canceled multiple projects such as Ghost Recon Frontline, Splinter Cell VR, and other unannounced games. While the company had invested in Frontline to compete with other major titles like COD and Apex, Ubisoft spun its wheels out with its investment phase, and Frontline (alongside several other titles) never reached the light of day.
The company has made these cuts to refocus on their bread and butter labels like Assassin's Creed. According to official statements, recent Ubisoft releases Just Dance 2023 and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope "underperformed," so the transition to banking on live service elements and their biggest IPs is Ubisoft's last-ditch effort. The company has cut $215 million in costs over the next two years and has made 'restructures' to their organization to cut the bloat. Ubisoft's CEO Yves Guillemot sent a company-wide email in what many are calling a tone-deaf message, where he essentially told his employees that it's on them to turn the company's bad fortunes around. You can read excerpts of the email below:
"The ball is in your court to deliver this line-up on time and at the expected level of quality, and show everyone what we are capable of achieving... Today more than ever, I need your full energy and commitment to ensure we get back on the path to success... I am also asking that each of you be especially careful and strategic with your spending and initiatives, to ensure we’re being as efficient and lean as possible.”
The message did not include (as far as I've seen) any type of roadmap for how he or other C-level executives would help lead the pack during this time. Ubisoft is no stranger to controversy and internal strife. The company was beleaguered with lawsuits surrounding workplace harassment, toxic work culture, and sexual abuse at multiple international studios. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, very few (if any) institutional changes asked for by a coalition of Ubisoft employees have been implemented over the course of the past few years to help rectify those initial complaints. Now, the latest string of cuts has affected workers who are stuck dealing with less backfill of vacated positions, fewer renewed contracts for temp workers, and overall budget cuts. It seems expected that workers will experience crunch in order to get these games out the door, and anonymous internal sources seem dubious that Skull and Bones can deliver adequate sales.
Skull and Bones— which was slated to release in March 2023— will now arrive "early" in Ubisoft's next fiscal year, which runs from April 2023 until March 2024. (For reference to the severity of Skull and Bones delay, the game was announced six years ago.) The company apparently plans to release Assassin's Creed Mirage, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, and one unannounced project in the same time window. Ubisoft has stated that they have more announcements and news around their games pipeline that they will debut at June's E3 convention.
What do you think Ubisoft's ultimate fate will be? The publisher has been a behemoth in the games industry for years but has slowly declined.